1. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Researching Victorian Houses

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Taylee91, Oct 10, 2010.

    Hi everyone. I was just wondering if anyone had any information about Victorian houses. I'm working on a book of mine which involves a couple buying one, etc.

    First question: the homes had root cellars, right? I know the icebox wasn't invented until later during the 1900s. So really that seems to be the only way they preserved food.

    Second: What kind of things did they preserve? Wine possibly? And various groups of vegetables? Also, were they just primitive dug-outs with a few shelves on the walls or more luxurious cellars with stone or brick floors and wood walls?

    Third: Did the homes have a sort of ventilation system ? Circulating air through tunnels from the inside of the house to the outside?

    Sorry, these may be a bit too specific for anybody to answer. But it was worth a shot. If anyone can comment, that would just be perfect. Thank you :D

    T
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't know about the US but in the UK they had a pantry with a marble slab in it for keeping things cool. My gran made allsorts from Sloe Gin, jam, chutney, plum pudding etc

    For the UK you can look up 1900 House it is a late victorian house. Not sure if there was a US equivelent.
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It's very much dependent on class and what area they're living in. With regards to Victorian architecture in general, it's generally marked by an eclecticism of styles, functions and designs, so there isn't really "a Victorian house" as such.
     
  4. Neptunia
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    Neptunia New Member

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    I think root cellars would be separate sheds dug into the ground near a farmhouse, not actually part of a Victorian house.
     
  5. Neptunia
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    Neptunia New Member

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    and as far as preserving foods, some things could be salted (like sardines) or dried (like mushrooms) or cooked with sugar (like strawberry "preserves") or smoked (like hams) or aged (like sausages and cheese and wine). Root cellars would have been good for keeping potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips, etc though the winter but maybe not so good for keeping flour or grain.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to get valid info, you'll have to tell us where this is located and the economic/social level of the family living there, if they're the original owners...

    also, was the house actually built in the victorian era, or is it a more modern home that was simply designed in that style?...
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    The house I am trying to construct is an era-built home, constructed by a high middle class family and built in the late 1800s. The building site is in Maine.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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  9. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Thank you! Perfect!
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is very, very true. I worked at an antiques auction house for several years and the various design elements that comprise Victorian are really a progression of styles which vary by place and time. At its core Victorian style borrows with abandon from neoclassical architecture for its design cues but very late Victorian items in he U.S. start to evoke the clean lines and simplicity that would later come to define Art Deco. Eastlake style is an example of this move toward simplicity. The more robust architectural elements of Victorian design cues were melded with Oriental design cues and gave birth to Prairie School, Mission, and Craftsman style. As arron89 mentions, the Victorian era was a melange of many things and was typified by eclecticism. It has different personalities in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. In Europe it gave birth to Art Nouveau in a way that never really caught on in the U.S. There are many examples of Art Nouveau accessories and smaller items of decoration, but as an architectural style or as a furniture style, Art Nouveau in America is quite rare.

    I could talk for days.... :)
     
  11. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's interesting. Houses rarely have cellars in England. I just looked up 'root cellars'.
    In the UK, food was generally kept in a pantry on a slab of stone, which works very well--my mother in fact still uses hers.
    Meat, poultry or game could be cured, smoked or just hung up under a rafter, but there had to be a muslin covering over it to protect against maggots and flies.
    Apples, potatos and grain were often kept in the loft of a barn, usually bedded in straw. They can stay edible if kept like this for several months.
    Flour, dried peas etc keep for ages in an airtight container.
    Only well-off families had wine cellars, and some people who had the space had ice houses in a separate building outside.
    Houses weren't so insulated in the old days, so air circulated anyway! Big country houses in England sometimes have elaborate systems of ducts and skylights for ventilation, but I don't know about houses in Maine.
     
  12. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    I'll keep looking, guys. Thank you for your input :)
     

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